Every Hollywood film has the potential to change the world. The ability to reach audiences that number in the hundreds of millions gives film studios, writers, directors, and actors heart palpitations as they realize the inherent power of their chosen medium. The millions of man-hours that go into making even small, indie flicks—not to mention the thousands of CGI artists who work on blockbuster action films these days—are a testament to the power of film throughout history.
But as much as the entire world has turned actors and directors into demi-Gods with levels of love and admiration that rival and exceed even the most popular religious figures, the heroes behind the scenes deserve the praise and admiration of a grateful public, as well. These days, the credits on a comic-based studio film can last seemingly forever—ever wonder why Marvel is always throwing in extra scenes at the end? They want audiences to sit there and recognize the immense work that went into these productions.
From set designers to grips, stylists to food caterers, a whole world of support goes into creating the illusions that flit by at 24 frames per second. The entire goal is to create that magical suspension of disbelief, as the audience is transported into the story on the screen before them. Part of the work is maintaining the illusion through every minuscule detail—and that includes things like clothes, hair, shadows, and yes, cars.
But Hollywood's cars aren't just workhorses; sometimes, they're the stars of the films themselves. Not every car that stars in a big movie is worthy of adoration, however—much like the actors and actresses, there are greats and there are duds. Keep scrolling for 10 movie cars no one should ever drive, and 10 that are the stuff of dreams.
20 Don't: Ferrari GTC4Lusso - The Upside
The soon-to-be-released film The Upside features Kevin Hart in a dramatic role alongside Bryan Cranston—though as with any film that Hart stars in, there's bound to be plenty of comedy strewn throughout. Cranston plays an uber-wealthy paraplegic who hires Hart as his helper, and one of the benefits of the job is being able to drive any of Cranston's character's amazing cars.
And yet, picking a Ferrari GTC4Lusso is a terrible choice. The hatchback, front-engined, all-wheel-drive Ferrari is barely worthy of the brand's name, much less the prancing ponies on its badging, and its inclusion in The Upside is clearly some serious product placement.
19 Don't: Honda Del Sol - The Fast and the Furious
When The Fast and the Furious hit theaters with a vengeance in 2001, tuner and modder culture blew up in the United States. An entire generation became immediately inspired to go out and buy imports from Japan and shortly thereafter, every car suffered from bottomed-out suspension setups, huge spoilers, body kits, and ridiculous paint jobs.
But some imports are better than others—as the film showed thoroughly—and the production budget for the original film didn't take into account the future billions on the table. As such, the cars in the background weren't always up to snuff; case in point, the Honda Del Sol and its mediocre front-engined, front-wheel-drive layout.
18 Don't: Volkswagen Jetta - The Fast and the Furious
A character who is often forgotten from the first Fast and Furious film is Jesse, the nerdy tech who drove a tuned Volkswagen Jetta. Jesse lost a race to a highly-customized Honda s2000—and no wonder.
The front-wheel-drive, commuter-special VW Jetta is nothing like the S2000, one of the greatest cars that Honda has ever built even before getting thousands of dollars of work in performance modifications. Jesse ran off after the loss (and later paid with his life) but he should have known from the get-go that the VW Jetta is not a car for anyone who wants to drive fast to get behind the wheel.
17 Don't: Original Eleanor - 1974 Gone in 60 Seconds
Not everyone realizes that the Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie movie Gone in 60 Seconds was actually a remake of a 1974 film with the same name. At the time, the original featured the most elaborate car chase ever captured on film—and it even included an Eleanor of its own.
But the Eleanor in the newer version is approximately 1,000% better than the original, which was a 1974 Ford Mustang Sportsroof from the era when Mustangs were beginning to go down the tube. Just about everything that made the first-gen Mustang awesome had been lost by 1974, and it was wise of the newer movie's producers to use a prop version of the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 Fastback instead.
16 Don't: DeLorean DMC-12 - Back to the Future
Arguably the most famous movie car of all time, the DeLorean DMC-12 that doubled as a time machine in the Back to the Future franchise sure looked futuristic in the 1980s. And to be fair, the stainless gullwing coupe still looks awesome to this day. But a driver's car it sure is not.
DeLorean hoped to create an incredible sports car but instead ended up with a heavy vehicle that employed an underpowered, Peugeot-Renault-Volvo-sourced engine that only put out 130 horsepower. Throw in a sloppy suspension setup that differed from early prototypes (which were said to handle nicely) and a three-speed slushbox as an 'upgrade' option, and the result is a car that can barely even get up to 88 miles per hour.
15 Don't: Mini Cooper - The Italian Job
The Mini Coopers steal the show in the star-studded 2003 remake of The Italian Job. With Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Mos Def, and Jason Statham each given plenty of screen time, that's quite a statement. But the highly-modified Minis that make the heist go exactly the right amount of wrong (it was all part of the plan, see) aren't exactly the spectacular vehicles depicted in the film.
Chalk it up to Hollywood magic and the suspension of disbelief, but it's hard to think a Mini Cooper's suspension would do well piloting down a huge flight of stairs or hopping over railroad tracks. BMW should have done the right thing and made the new Mini a rear-wheel-drive go-kart, which would also have allowed for more space in the engine bay for a beefier powerplant.
14 Don't: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am - Smokey and the Bandit
Another of the most iconic film car and film actor duos of all time is Burt Reynolds and the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am he drove in Smokey and the Bandit. Now, Burt Reynolds can always be counted on for some tongue-in-cheek action and plenty of spectacular chase scenes, but even the audience of the day in 1977 must have known that the Pontiac wasn't really a car that Reynolds would be caught behind the wheel of in real life.
The movie bumped up Pontiac's sales, though, so maybe audiences were fooled—or maybe everyone just wanted a chance to feel like their mustachioed hero.
13 Don't: Ford Thunderbird - Die Another Day
Halle Berry made a serious splash with her turn as a Bond girl in the 2002 Pierce Brosman vehicle, Die Another Day. Her scene-stealing talents were on full display throughout the movie, alternately as Bond's partner-in-crime and foil, but there's no way James Bond would ever suffer through a ride in an early-2000s Ford Thunderbird.
It didn't even make a lick of sense—even for a Bond movie—for Berry's character to drive a Ford Thunderbird to a gigantic ice castle, but what made even less sense was Ford's decision to reboot the Thunderbird with such a dismal drivetrain and suspension setup, not to mention the bad exterior styling.
12 Don't: V8 Interceptor Pursuit Special - Mad Max
Mel Gibson catapulted to international stardom with the success of the original Mad Max films, as his baby face matched perfectly with the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a nuclear-torn world. Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderbird are all studies in classic late-70s and 1980s grunge—but this was an era of bad cars the world over.
Even the radical work done to build the V8 Interceptor that Max Rockatansky pilots across the desert can't hide the fact that beneath the skin of the Pursuit Special was a Ford Falcon (and the supercharged jutting out of the hood didn't even work for filming).
11 Don't: Pontiac LeMans - The French Connection
Gene Hackman stars as Popeye Doyle in the noir detective film The French Connection, which hit theaters in 1971. Sandwiched between Bullitt and the original Gone in 60 Seconds, the movie featured possibly the most epic car chase that didn't have Steve McQueen at the wheel by that time.
Hackman was no slouch, though, piloting a hilarious unfit Pontiac Le Mans through the crowded New York City streets—and he even tried his hands at car racing, making an appearance at the 1983 24 Hours of Daytona after driving an open-wheeled Formula Ford in competition during the late 1970s. Looking back, even though the Pontiac LeMans sparked a lifelong passion, Hackman would probably advise most drivers to stay away from the boat-like car.
10 Dream Drive: New Eleanor - 2000 Gone in 60 Seconds
When Nicolas Cage's Gone in 60 Seconds character, Memphis Raines, almost trembles with love and excitement while approaching Eleanor in the 2000 remake, every gearhead in the audience was shaking just as feverishly. Just look at that car!
Sure, the actual one used in the film wasn't real, but get over it, this is Hollywood. And most car nuts would give their left thumb even for a chance to drive a replica 1967 Shelby GT500 Fastback, especially in Dupont Pepper Grey with some racing stripes on top. The chicken farmer from Texas truly hit it out of the park when he took on the project of building the bigger, better, badder Mustang—and the world is a better place because of his efforts.
9 Dream Drive: Honda S2000 -2 Fast 2 Furious & More
A Honda S2000 makes a brief appearance in The Fast and the Furious when Jesse loses to it in his VW Jetta, but Honda's epic sports car made a more serious appearance in the franchise's second installment, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Devon Aoki pilots the car in the opening race, and her custom pink paint job, huge rear spoiler, and enormous wheels are perfect for the tiny sports coupe.
As driver cars go, the S2000 sits near the top of the heap for smiles per gallon. These days, a used S2000 can be found for around $20,000 and comes with an inline-four engine capable of 250 horsepower, one of the world's greatest six-speed transmissions, and a factory limited slip differential.
8 Dream Drive: Nissan Skyline GT-R - 2 Fast 2 Furious & More
When Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner pulls up to the opening race in 2 Fast 2 Furious, the rest of the field should have bowed out then and there. His car of choice may not have been instantly recognizable for many average audience members but gearheads the world over, and especially in the United States, held their breath getting ready to see that Nissan Skyline GT-R do its thing.
Today's modern GT-R is a serious machine, but it's not nearly as potent compared to the rest of the world as the original Skylines were back in the 1990s. Now that the 25-year rule is allowing for importation, more Skylines are making it to these shores, and every driving fanatic ought to have a chance to try one out, even if they are all right-hand drive.
7 Dream Drive: Aston Martin DB5 - Goldfinger & More
Possibly coming in second on the list (first, if you ask any Englishman) of most famous movie cars of all time, the Aston Martin DB5 is also one of the two most valuable. When Sean Connery as James Bond got behind the wheel of his gadgeted-out DB5, little did he know he'd be sending values into the millions decades later.
But even without that Bond bump, the DB5 is still one of the most beautiful vehicular designs ever to grace the world's roads. The thought of driving one over a mountain pass on the way to apprehend the criminal known as Goldfinger is on every maniacal car enthusiast's bucket list.
6 Deam Drive: Ford Mustang Fastback - Bullitt
Steve McQueen forever cemented the Ford Mustang and the turtleneck sweater into history with his turn as famous San Francisco detective Frank Bullitt. In the titular role, his fashion choices made him seem like the unlikely candidate for Hollywood's greatest car chase up to that point (1968). And yet, behind the wheel of a beat-up Ford Mustang Fastback in Highland Green, McQueen unveiled some of his real-life driving chops.
He was a race car driver first and an actor second, and many of his films included stunts that only he could pull off—reportedly, on the set of The Great Escape, none of the stuntmen could keep up on a motorcycle charging across a field, so McQueen had to do the drive twice.
5 Dream Drive: Ford Gran Torino - Gran Torino
The Ford Gran Torino is a forgotten gem in Detroit's storied automotive history. Forgotten by everyone but the writers of the Clint Eastwood film, Gran Torino, that is. Rumor has it that writers Nick Schenk and Dave Johannson submitted the script to Eastwood, who immediately decided to both direct and star—all without changing a word.
The result is a stupendously offensive movie that only Clint could get away with, but the love affair with the Gran Torino car living in his garage is a through-line to help even the most morally outraged audiences hang tight until the end (an end which proved that Clint is still a bad, bad man, even speaking from the grave).
4 Dream Drive: Subaru WRX - Baby Driver
When the news went public that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz writer and director Edgar Wright would be leading a serious action flick called Baby Driver, the cinema world as a whole collectively held their breath. Initial reviews were just about unanimously positive, though the public as a whole had more of a divided opinion.
At the very least, the decision to include a Subaru Impreza (regardless of the fact that it sacrificed its all-wheel-drive to enable more awesome burnouts) as a getaway car was a solid casting decision. Whether gearheads would have been able to sit through the rest of the sometimes musical, sometimes mushy, always extremely violent film without the Subie is a serious question.
3 Dream Drive: Jaguar XK-E - Austin Powers & More
The Austin Powers films provide a wonderful spoof on the spy film genre, specifically all the James Bond movies. The Mike Myers flicks are fun, and manage to completely reveal the inane absurdity of every sticky situation that James Bond manages to get himself into—while simultaneously creating even more absurd and more sticky situations. (Yeah, baby, very yeah!)
In the sequences when Austin Powers has yet to cryogenically freeze himself in a desperate effort to pursue his nemesis, the evil Dr. Evil, through time, his car of choice is a Jaguar XK-E. Every single automotive enthusiast, if they don't already, should definitely want a chance to drive the car that Enzo Ferrari himself described as "the most beautiful car ever made."
2 Dream Drive: Koenigsegg CCXR - Fast Five
Coming in as both the newest and most expensive car on this list, the Koenigsegg CCXR is undoubtedly the best performer, as well. The rare supercar made a cameo appearance at the end of Fast Five—or is that two cameo appearances, given that Ludacris had to spoil Tyrese's fun and buy one himself, as well.
Either way, the CCXR helped pave the way for the world-beating Ageras (in all their iterations) that currently sit at the top of the hypercar heap, and with values way over $1 million, the model comes the closest to being worth its actual weight in gold.
1 Dream Drive: The War Rig - Mad Max: Fury Road
Most of the most iconic cars in Hollywood's long history have been sports cars. And it only makes sense that audiences and gearheads would want to drive the world's ultimate performers. But every enthusiast also hides a secret dream in their heart, one that sparks up every time they take to the highway surrounded by enormous semi trucks. And if there was one semi that seems like the ultimate drive—in terms of fun, adventure, and downright insanity—it's the War Rig from Mad Max: Fury Road.
Insanity is the first word that comes to mind describing director George Romero's long-awaited return to the wasteland, and the highly customized Tatra T815, described as "2,000 horsepower of nitro-boosted war machine" both sets the tone and steals the show simultaneously.
Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia, and Mad Max Fandom.